The 25 Best Concerts in Houston Before FPSF
Photo by Shane McCauley/Courtesy of RCA Records
Jazmine Sullivan House of Blues, April 2
You know those artists who you search on YouTube late at night to watch video montages of their "Best Vocal Moments"? Jazmine Sullivan is one of those artists. The self-proclaimed "church girl" released her third album, Reality Show, earlier this year after taking a four-year hiatus from the music industry, and judging by the new music's abundance of "hear-to-believe" vocal runs and newfound versatility, it's got Grammy written all over it.
She used to be just another impressive R&B singer, but I'd say Sullivan has moved past the "church girl" label and onto simply being an all-encompassing "vocal powerhouse" whose sheer pipes are impressive enough to bring in a sold-out crowd. IVAN GUZMAN
Arrested Development, Camp Lo Fitzgerald's, April 9
Lunaface does it again by bringing the best old-school hip-hop to H-Town, this time with the duo Camp Lo and Afrocentric crew Arrested Development. Both artists do their best to mix together the sounds of funk, jazz and blues with a progressive hip-hop mentality. Their respective most popular songs are classics for any hip-hop head, and hearing "People Everyday," "Tennessee" and "Luchini (This Is It)" live will be a cross on many a music lover's bucket list. MARCO TORRES
X Warehouse Live, April 10
X was the antithesis of the sun-dappled L.A. folk-rock scene of the '70s - a band that coalesced around legendary Hollywood punk club the Masque, not Laurel Canyon, and one that took inspiration from seedy porno shops and fleabag motels instead of nature walks and copious dope smoking. Fronted by one of the great couples of the era, Exene Cervenka and John Doe, X introduced listeners to a side of Southern California that movies and TV didn't touch through essential albums like 1980 debut Los Angeles and '82's Under the Big Black Sun. Doe and Cervenka eventually broke up, and then so did the band, but soon enough X realized the music they made was just too vital not to keep doing it. So now here they are, and we're all better off for it. CHRIS GRAY
Bryan Adams Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, April 11
Before he matured into an adult-contemporary balladeer, Bryan Adams was the prince of mid-'80s radio-rock; a little softer than Springsteen and not quite as angry as John Mellencamp, his songs had a golden sheen practically built for poolside boomboxes and car stereos. (His most MTV-friendly looks didn't hurt, either.)
A native of Kingston, Ontario, Adams broke through with 1983's Cuts Like a Knife, but it was the next year's Reckless -- whose 30th-anniversary edition is the reason for the 55-year-old's visit to The Woodlands next Saturday -- that made him a superstar thanks to a staggering six singles that hit Billboard's Top 15, a list that only starts with "Run to You" and "Summer of '69." CHRIS GRAY
Cake House of Blues, April 12
After a crappy, never-ending winter, nothing can lift the spirits quite like a concert that doesn't take itself too seriously. Cake's show is just what the doctor ordered: music that is meant to be enjoyed. With equal parts humor and danceability and just enough of a goofy nostalgia factor, it'll bring Houston what it needs to kick off springtime: fun. SELENA DIERINGER
Mates of State Fitzgerald's, April 17
Mates of State haven't been to town in quite a few years, but with promise of new material from one of indie's best husband-and-wife duos, it's guaranteed to be a spectacularFriday evening. ALYSSA DUPREE
Sleater-Kinney Warehouse Live, April 18
The prodigal daughters of riot grrl turned indie rock have returned, with a stunning new album and new found fame and acclaim thanks to guitarist/singer Carrie Brownstein's role on the hit comedy Portlandia. The show makes a lot of jokes about the culture surrounding the very scenes Brownstein came up in, but Sleater-Kinney is completely serious when it comes to the jagged guitar riffs and screeching vocals that brought them attention all those years ago. Expect the long-awaited reunion to remind us all of the power and prowess possessed by this amazing trio. COREY DIETERMAN
From Indian Lakes Fitzgerald's, April 21
Last year, From Indian Lakes put out a great album called Absent Sounds that went largely ignored by online tastemakers. That's a shame, because it's such a solid, polished piece of work that it's deserves to be in more people's ears. At times rocking, at times airy, at times delivering just perfectly written songs - "Sleeping Limbs" is flawless - FIL are putting out material that is just as if not better than the big names in indie rock. Will success come their way? Maybe. There's still room to get in on the ground floor, just in case. CORY GARCIA
Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, April 24
Her theatrics nearly bankrupted her during 2009's Monsters Ball Tour, but Lady Gaga's voice has always been able to stand on its own. On tour with Tony Bennett, Gaga will showcase her sultry vocals at the Pavilion alongside the show tunes icon and demonstrate her artistry without dresses made of meat. Hopefully their presentation will be light on the bells and whistles and heavy on the music, which may be where Gaga's niche has been all along. MATTHEW KEEVER
More shows on the next page.
Matt and Kim at Free Press Summer Fest 2013
Photo by Jim Bricker
Matt and Kim House of Blues, April 25
No one saw it coming, but Matt and Kim's performance at FPSF 2013 was one of the best of the weekend. If their House of Blues show brings have the amount of riotous energy, it should not be missed. The beauty of the duo's music is that it lacks all the prevention of other indie artists and is decidedly more entertaining to see live.
Driven by Kim's manic, hard-hitting drums and Matt's melodic and friendly keys, this on-and-offstage duo has an innate ability to make their audiences feel like they are having the best time of their lives. Plus Kim tells a lot of perverted jokes, and nuthin's wrong with that. SELENA DIERINGER
Vance Joy House of Blues, April 28
If you did not have the opportunity to catch Vance Joy at Fitzgeralds in October, make it a point to catch this show. Vance Joy is a true singer-songwriter who knows how to own the stage. Perhaps it's his Aussie swagger or maybe he has complete confidence in his music, either way, he's one you should not miss.
Although he's popular for "Riptide," many of his tracks about loss and love are heartbreaking. There is something earthshattering about this man live; his voice paired with his attitude when performing songs like "Best That I can" and "Emmylou" will give you goosebumps. KANDACE LYTLE
The Who Toyota Center, April 29
Take it away, Rog... CHRIS GRAY
Walk the Moon, The Griswolds House of Blues, April 30
Both imitators and innovators, Walk the Moon has succeeded in melding '80s pop with modern indie-rock to create radio hits like "Anna Sun" and "Shut Up and Dance." The opening act, The Griswolds, are an up-and-coming indie-pop band that are steadily gaining momentum. This is the perfect pairing of up-tempo infectious beats for Houstonians who are ready to rock neon and dance their asses off all night. KANDACE LYTLE
Cherub House of Blues, May 2
Who wants to party??? Hopefully you. Because Cherub is coming to town, and boy do they like to party. House of Blues will serve as an ideal dance floor for this Pro Tools-loving duo when they come to Houston in May to play their spin on electro-indie music. In addition to making some of the most interesting dance songs of the last decade ("Doses and Mimosas" is the shit) the group can also drop some serious R&B nastiness into the mix, so be prepared: if "You, Me, and Jodeci" gets played, someone's probably getting pregnant. SELENA DIERINGER
Lana Del Rey, Courtney Love Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, May 7
Lana Del Rey first came to attention in the mainstream both for her unprecedented success as a YouTube artist and for her "horrid" performance on Saturday Night Live a few years ago. The truth is that the performance wasn't bad; the public just wasn't used to her style. Now that they are, she's headlining the Pavilion. Go figure.
Though her music can be almost too chill at times, the live show should be lapped up by her hardcore fan contingent, and should be counterbalanced by the wild, unpredictable performance of former Hole front woman Courtney Love, who still rocks just as hard as she did in the '90s -- when she was a "Teenage Whore" during her most lucid moments. COREY DIETERMAN
Earl Sweatshirt Warehouse Live, May 9
It's been a short, strange trip for L.A. alt-rapper Earl Sweatshirt. From mixtape prodigy to the recent surprise release (a surprise even to him, apparently) of his latest album, he's gone from teen phenom to banished boarding-school resident (his mother's decision) and back - all before he could legally buy a drink. If you're intrigued by Kendrick Lamar's existential crisis, you'll definitely want to hear how Earl is managing and even see for yourself, when he features cuts from I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside at Warehouse Live next month. Judging from the title, it's going to be a mass therapy session. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
Two Gallants Fitzgerald's, May 10
This San Francisco duo don't come around often, but when they do, it's more of an event than a rock show. With gut-wrenching grit and power behind their folk-rock sound, they may make you walk out feeling like you've been hit with a ton of bricks, but we promise it'll be worth it. ALYSSA DUPREE
Sufjan Stevens Jones Hall, May 11
Stevens is, for lack of a better word, eccentric. He doesn't abide by the laws of "singer-songwriter" territory, and it shows in his music, fan base and live performances - where he's always got some hidden trick up his sleeve. With a new album, Carrie & Lowell released this week, Stevens is returning with new material that will kick Monday on its ass. ALYSSA DUPREE
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds House of Blues, May 13
Well-known as an arrogant jerk, Noel Gallagher's ability to craft amazing music continues to keep him sitting pretty in the music industry. While the British star is still best-known for his role in the long-departed Oasis, his latest project the High Flying Birds are well worth the attention of listeners. Their self-titled 2011 album was a fantastic debut, and this year's Chasing Yesterday may even better. MATTHEW KEEVER
Pachanga Latino Music Festival feat. Kinky, Compass (Mexican Institute of Sound + Toy Selectah), Ceci Bastida Warehouse Live, May 14
The hot and spicy Latino music festival from Austin is going on tour this year, with stops in Houston and Dallas before culminating at Auditorium Shores for another year. Mexican electro-cumbia pioneers Kinky will create a musical dynamo on stage as they headline the tour, supported by master producers Camilo Lara (Mexican Institute of Sound) and Toy Selectah. Tijuana-born Ceci Bastida rounds out the bill with her synth-driven pop rock sounds that compliment her tragic and thought provoking lyrics. MARCO TORRES
More shows on the next page.
Rush at Toyota Center in December 2012
Photo by Eric Sauseda
Rush Toyota Center, May 20
Even Rush's must ardent haters most admire their musical prowess and rigid tenacity. It's been more than 40 years since the band started, and they are still beloved enough to sell massive amounts of prog rock records which carry nary a hit single in sight. Just as vital as ever, the band is finally starting to wind down, admitting this may be their last large-scale stadium tour. Given the wizardry of their live shows, you'd be a fool to miss what may be your last chance to enjoy the combination of instrumental technicality and theatrical showmanship that Rush provides. COREY DIETERMAN
Kenny Chesney BBVA Compass Stadium, May 22
No country-music fan am I. But, even so, I am a huge proponent for shows being staged at BBVA Compass Stadium. When Kenny Chesney brings his Big Revival tour to town, it'll feel like a bigger deal thanks to the open-air, stadium setting. I recall the flurry of activity that surrounded the H-Town Beat Down last spring.
The excitement of a show under a brilliant Houston spring sky is enough to make a guy delve into the ample supply of Chesney's greatest hits (plus, the guy wears a cowboy hat like no one's business). I'm learning fast so I can sing along with thousands of y'all to "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" when a fun night in EaDo ends. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
Purity Ring House of Blues, May 24
Sometimes, nothing soothes your soul better than just going to a concert, standing in a bunched crowd of people, and vibing out to some chill electronic music together, and there's no better band that can fulfill your craving for smoothly-sculpted beats and dreamy pop synths than Canadian duo Purity Ring. The duo just released their sophomore LP, another eternity, and with singer Megan James' sweet vocals and instrumentalist Corin Roddick's ghostly beats and production, Purity Ring are steadily going from having one or two songs in some college hipster's study playlist to becoming total indie pop connoisseurs. IVAN GUZMAN
Scott Brandlee's Postmodern Jukebox Warehouse Live, May 28
A YouTube sensation, Scott Brandlee's Postmodern Jukebox is collaboration between many musicians, singers and performers who interpret and rejuvenate modern hits into classic, jazzy tunes. Expect to hear saxophones, banjos, pianos, clarinets, tambourines and soulful singers transform some of the most popular songs on the radio into a theatrical experience akin to seeing a Broadway show in the '60s.
Fans of Postmodern Jukebox are hoping Puddles the Clown will make an appearance with his hallowing cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." If not, his hauntingly beautiful performance-art will be highlighted with its own show after FPSF on Sunday, June 28 at Warehouse Live. KANDACE LYTLE
Action Bronson House of Blues, May 31
Mr. Wonderful is one of those rappers who will do anything in the name of entertainment, including hosting his own Youtube food/travel show called Fuck, That's Delicious! and release a Coming to America-themed music video with Chance the Rapper. His past shows in Houston have been supremely memorable, including leading a parade out of Numbers and onto Westheimer on his first visit back in 2012.
With a new album in stores and the energy of a hurricane, Action will most certainly put on one of the best shows of the year. You may even go home with a TV or an XBox, as he's been known to give those out at his concerts. MARCO TORRES
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